Friday, 16 March 2012

Ken Loach, of course

“Obviously the Falklands dispute is absurd. All of Latin America believes they’re Argentinean. British settlers arrived there as recently as the early 19th century. There should be a negotiated return to South America, taking into account the rights of the people living there. It’s hard to see how the current situation could be sustained.” Interview with Ken Loach at Reel Islington Film Festival 24/2/12
It’s 1982. Sean Penn has just appeared in Taps, a film about cadets occupying a military academy due to be shut down by the man in favour of more commercially viable ventures. Roger Waters has written the screenplay for The Wall about a soul losing touch with reality; a soul whose father died during the war and who sinks in despair at his world, sucked into Nazi fantasy. Confused political messages? Morrissey, the master of confused political message, is forming The Smiths.
And the Falklands conflict.
A few confessions:
I’ve seen Taps but remember nothing about it. This is a tenuous ‘then and now’ link but the word ‘occupy’ does jump out. I grew up on Guernsey where ‘occupy’ signifies five years of German rule, but right now ‘occupy’, in much of Britain and the US, represents protest. That, at least, has been achieved. Sean Penn occupying a military academy to keep it open is a curious juxtaposition.
I’ve never seen The Wall or cared about the Floyd. From the Wikipedia page I take it that this latter fact will be an obstacle to deciphering a barrage of hallucinogenic symbolism. Having said that, year by year I discover music, film and literature which I really should have ‘got’ earlier. Let’s not rule it out.
The Smiths being a case in point. I was too young first time around but it was only a couple of years ago that they clicked with me. Morrissey is the master of confused political message except, perhaps, on animal cruelty. Agree with him or not, but there he appears consistent.
I interviewed Ken Loach at a screening of The Wind that Shakes the Barley, his controversial film about the struggle against colonial rule during the Irish War of Independence. On its release the Daily Mail asked: “Why does Ken Loach hate his country so much?” a headline for which Morrissey would slaughter cattle.
Loach doesn’t hate his country although he may think little of certain aspects of it, and certain of its residents. And neither are his politics overtly confused, though you may disagree with them. The debate over the Falklands is, as with most land disputes, couched in terms of Nozickian entitlement theory: individual natural property rights on a first come first served basis.
At the Q&A after the screening he said: “We’ve got to a stage where people don’t think there’s a choice. Social ownership is the choice. It’s the only alternative we have.”
A faltering free market with the help of the Occupy movement has shown that this debate is still alive. And the Falklands debate persists too, and is not so cut and dry as often presented.